This week, Gateley Plc published a major report on how businesses across the UK are embracing change and transformation. One of the key themes in the report is ‘Transforming ways of working’ and how people can either help or hinder change within a business.
Ben Gorner, employment partner at Gateley, examines the findings in more detail.
Earlier this year we commissioned a survey of senior business leaders across the country to gain a greater understanding of how companies are implementing change and the challenges they face. The results, published in the ‘How UK businesses can successfully transform’ report, provide a valuable insight into the attitudes and views towards change and transformation, not least the role employees play in either its success or failure.
But what is ‘business transformation’ and why is it important? Business transformation means delivering change and improvement across a company, whether it’s delivering substantive operational change in order to drive efficiencies and lower costs; rethinking operational models to help identify new solutions to old problems; or strategic transformation to enable change or expand services/products.
Participants in the survey were asked a range of questions, the answers to which form the basis of the report. Amongst the key findings is the importance businesses place on people in helping to deliver their strategic goals and objectives.
When asked ‘what is the primary focus of the key strategic investment you are making in 2016?’ more than a third (35 per cent) of respondents placed ‘investment in people’ at the top of the list.
However, according to those surveyed, the skills gap and difficulty in recruiting the right people for the job continue to be major issues, with ‘filling job vacancies’ and ‘staff retention’ cited as two of the main barriers to implementing strategic priorities. Unfilled vacancies can create workload pressures across a company, diverting resource away from strategic priorities and thus putting a brake on change and transformation.
For businesses struggling to keep up with the pace of change in their sector, recruitment will be a bigger challenge in the future. Talent is attracted to dynamic businesses, which creates a negative spiral for those that are underperforming, as they lose existing talent and fail to replace it with new blood.
Part of the solution may lie in attracting more skilled workers from ethnic minorities or getting more female recruits into industry sectors traditionally regarded as predominantly male. Businesses that embrace diversity and make it a pillar of their recruitment and retention policies are going to be in a much better position when it comes to tackling the growing skills crisis in the years ahead.
The business leaders surveyed as part of our research also said ’employee engagement/motivation’ and ‘resistance to change’ were two of the main barriers to implementing strategic priorities over the last year.
This serves to underline the need to proactively create the right mind-set and culture throughout the organisation. This is often shaped from the top down by what senior people within the business say and do, which is then filtered down through the workforce.
It is important for initiatives to be taken to ensure that ideas for change are encouraged and the implementation of change is embraced by everyone. For example, creating opportunities for the ‘agents of change’ or ‘transformers’ within the company to meet and mix with each other in formal and informal settings.
Another idea may be to identify key ‘influencer’ employees who can act as advocates to spread the message of why change is necessary across the organisation. Likewise, picking out departments to show quick gains from change can also be vital in helping to answer any criticism from the ‘nay-sayers’.
A company is only as good as its people, and when it comes to business transformation, people are a pivotal part of the process. Those businesses that can not only attract but also retain talent, while creating a culture that’s open and willing to change, will be best placed to face the challenges that lie ahead.
For more information, contact Partner Ben Gorner: Benedict.Gorner@gateleyplc.com